Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name



Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Carol J. Miller


Reservoir sedimentation and the consequence long term loss of storage capacity have been a serious threat to the natural environmental system. However, there is only few information and physical measurements regarding to the sediment accumulation rate within the reservoirs. The average age of dams in the country is more than 50 years old, and with aging dams, the number of high-hazard dams continues to increase. There are some serious risks associated with aging dams. Dam removal or dam failure can release considerable sediment load to downstream reaches, eventually deteriorate water quality and fish habitat. The present dissertation investigates the historical function of Great Lakes dams as sediment storage points and provides insight into the remaining capacity of dams in the Great Lakes watershed. to better understand the historical and current sediment yield, Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) has been used. The regression analysis has been done on SWAT output to predict the sediment yield in un-modeled watershed.

The overall objectives of this research are:

1- Determine the historical and current sediment yield within the Great Lakes watershed.

2- Estimate the sediment accumulation rate within the reservoirs and forecast the remaining capacity of reservoirs in the Great Lakes.

3- Evaluate the net effect that humans have caused to the sediment delivery to the Great Lakes. The difference between pre- European settlement and the present- day sediment delivery rate is anthropogenic effects.

The research of this investigation includes field studies and modeling for eleven reservoirs in the Great Lakes watershed.